Drayer: Another Mike Blowers prediction comes true, this time with Mariners slugger Jay Bruce
May 7, 2019, 6:24 PM
It wasn’t quite the Matt Tuiasosopo prediction that rocketed Mike Blowers to “Picks to Click” fame, but when what appeared to be a Jay Bruce flyout to right-center field fell between two fielders as both kept their eyes skyward, it was fun to think that perhaps Blowers had done it again Tuesday in the Bronx.
On the “Blowers on Baseball” segment of the Mariners pregame show, the former big leaguer-turned-broadcast analyst turned his attention to the odd early numbers posted by Bruce.
Heading into Tuesday’s Game 2 against the Yankees, Bruce was hitting just .176 but had posted an OPS+ of 105 – or wRC+ of 102 if you prefer – both above average. It has been all or absolute nothing for Bruce, with 15 of his 19 hits going for extra bases, including 11 home runs that ties him for second in the American League. While the results have not been there, he has been hitting the ball hard to the tune of a 53 percent hard-hit rate. That paired with a MLB-lowest batting average on balls in play had Blowers thinking it was time for the tide to change.
“Luck is involved,” Blowers said. “Luck can be involved, either good or bad. The good news is he is a veteran player. If a younger player had that, or maybe when Jay Bruce was in his second or third year this would be a different situation for him, but I think he fully understands that he is having quality at-bats. He is hitting the ball hard and eventually this is going to turn around.”
Blowers said the numbers can sometimes be a player’s friend when the results are not there.
“When I was playing we didn’t have all of this stuff,” pointed out Blowers, who spent 11 years in the MLB as a third baseman. “It was just teammates or the hitting coach saying, ‘Hey look, don’t change anything, you are hitting the ball hard.’ Oh. OK. Now there is data that is telling him that even though he is not getting paid off with the hit, he is doing a lot of things right and he just needs to stay there because eventually this has to turn.”
That said, regardless of every other metric, nobody likes to see a “.1” at the front of their batting order. For the veteran, however, it is a little easier to stomach in part because of track record and the fact that they cannot be optioned to the minor leagues.
“It’s very different,” said Blowers. “After every night he goes back in there and he is 0 for 3 or 1 for 4, but he has hit the ball hard two or three times and that is all he he ends up with, he’s frustrated with that, especially if the team loses. That’s really difficult, but by the time he has showered and he is walking out of the clubhouse, I’m sure he has put that behind him. But for a younger player? He’s not sleeping. This is a different thing and you have to be careful with these guys. It’s more keeping their confidence up. With Jay it is just about staying with his routine and knowing that it’s going to change for him.”
Perhaps we started to see that Tuesday night. When the ball dropped between the Yankees outfielders, Bruce got a hit back that earlier in the year didn’t fall. If he keeps hitting the ball hard, doesn’t panic and doesn’t start changing things at the plate, Blowers believes more will come his way. That will benefit not only Bruce, but the team as well.
“Eventually those numbers are going to pay off and that’s the good news for him,” Blowers said. “At least he has some things on the ledger that are going his way, and that is something that as far as your mental health, that helps. That helps a lot when you look at his home runs and his ability to help the club out driving in runs. Even though it’s a frustrating time for him, we’re coming up on a quarter of the season, it’s time for it to change for him and start to go his way.
“The good news is Jay Bruce, with his career, and you look at his numbers when he the hits start to fall and he gets hot, he can carry this team.”